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The Soft Machine - Triple Echo CD (album) cover

TRIPLE ECHO

The Soft Machine

 

Canterbury Scene

3.86 | 15 ratings

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febus
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars A PERFECT INTRODUCTION TO THE SOFT MACHINE WORLD!

Usually, i try not to review compilations or best-of albums as the selection of the songs included on those recordings are always a matter of personal taste and subjectivity. I haven't met one fan yet not complaining that a specific song he likes was not included on some best-of of his favorite band. So maybe, there is no possibility for a compilation to get a 5 star treatment!

The only compilation i have reviewed so far is the 5 LPs/3 CDs boxset of JETHRO TULL ''20th YEAR ANNIVERSARY'' as it was mostly filled up with unreleased JT goodies. TRIPLE ECHO does not go as far as bringing a lot of new -never heard before-stuff , but rather should be viewed as a perfect introduction to the music (musics) of SOFT MACHINE. This is not a best- of either, as there are a few unreleased tracks and different versions from the classic versions of the original albums.

I don't think TRIPLE ECHO has been released on CD sadly; So i can only review the old original 3 LPs boxset which came with a great, great chic book full of never seen before pictures, but the most interesting feature is the Canterbury family tree. Knowing the changes of line-ups between each SF album, building this tree should have been a huge task for its creator who allows you to link all the Canterbury bands with each other thanks to all those musicians moving from one band to another. A very nice historical document about the Canterbury musical scene indeed!

All different periods of SOFT MACHINE are not represented equally; The first 2 albums from the psychedelic vocal period takes a full LP. The THIRD era , their most successful commercial and artistic peak covers an LP all by itsef.The ''best'' moments of FOURTH anf FIFTH find a way to be on 1 side of an LP. But the JENKINS era is badly misrepresented as SIX, SEVEN, BUNDLES and SOFTS--4 albums--as only one song of each one are being added to this compilation to end it up on side 6; Told you so that compilations never make everybody happy!!

What makes this box set interesting is first, the addition of unreleased LP tracks as the first 4 songs were only available as singles a very, very long time ago at the time when DAEVID ALLEN was with the band back then in 1967. Only a different version of the sweet haunting ballad MEMORIES could be heard on the JET-PROPELLED PHOTOGRAPH album that was released a few years ago. LOVE MAKES SWEET MUSIC is a nice typical song from this time , kind of commercial when a very young SOFT MACHINE was trying to reach the charts but with their very already peculiar way.Weirdness was not very faranyway as you can hear on FEELIN, REELIN, SQUELLIN another unearthed gem.

LP 2 is where you will find other goodies. MOON IN JUNE is played differently in a shortened 13mns version; i cannot say if it is better or worse than the original, this is only different. the band plays tighter, a lot of HOPPER fuzz bass, still great WYATT performance. MOON IN JUNE is such a masterpiece anyway, how could be another SOFT MACHINE version be bad??? This is MOON IN JUNE for god sake. And it's always fascinating to discover another performance of one of your favorite songs! There are also different versions of parts from THIRD. Excerpts from SLIGHTY ALL THE TIME are taken of the suite and being given another musical treatment on their own giving them their own particular personality. The sublime BACKWARDS is of course present as well a different jazzier instrumental version of ESTHER NOSE JOB from VOLUME 2.

Only the third LP doesn't bring anything new! 2 tunes from FOURTH are included with sadly the rather forgettable TEETH, a pure unimaginative jazz piece which drags too long. On the last side, i don't think STANLEY STAMPS GIBBON ALBUM was the most representative song of SIX, bu that's just me. Also, not having BAN BAN CALIBAN from SOFTS included is a big omission imlho. But anyway, TRIPLE ECHO was issued as an overview of all SOFT MACHINE different musical phases, including FOURTH and as such , it suceeds very well.

Hopeully, one day it will be released on CD, but i don't know how they gonna do with the huge family tree from the original album; i guess we would have to buy magnified glasses!! TRIPLE ECHO is a perfect introduction for the newcomer as an obligatory addition to the long time fan as there are some unheard jewels on this album. With tracks like TEETH,i cannot give the 5 star treatment, so will be....

4 STARS.

febus | 4/5 |

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